The idea of “human security” was developed by the UN in the mid-1990s. In the beginning, the question of improving human development prospects was firmly at its center. But soon the focus shifted to a general human rights-oriented framework. In contrast to the narrow traditional concept of security and also the expanded version, both of which concentrate on the state’s activities, the concept of “human security” sees the individual as a central player. In foreign and security policy debates, it promotes the much-neglected aspects of human development and human rights and gives these issues new visibility.
The basic criticisms of this approach are that it “securitizes” issues that really should be discussed in a development or legal context, and resolved politically. In addition, critics point out that there is the risk in solving problems by military means, which according to the logic of the security context, would make other strategies subordinate. For example, Claudia von Braunmühl criticizes: “It makes a considerable difference whether security policy is based on human rights concerns, or whether human rights policy is situated within a discussion of security.” Security with respect to food, and social justice including gender justice, are human rights and should not be seen as a security requirement. Thus from a human rights perspective, poverty is not primarily a security risk, but above all a violation of basic human rights.
Especially significant from a feminist perspective is the concept of “human security” for women in zones of war and crisis. The issue here is personal safety, protection from sexual violence, protection from deportation, freedom of movement, supply of food/water, health/hygiene, access to education and information, legal assistance, and the freedom to pursue cultural and religious practices.
- Cornelia Ulbert (2004): Human Security – ein brauchbares Konzept für eine geschlechtergerechte außen- und sicherheitspolitische Strategie? in: Feminist Institute: Human Security = Women’s Security, pp. 155-162
- Claudia von Braunmühl (2004): Human Security versus Human Development, in: Feminist Institute: Human Security = Women’s Security, pp. 52-61
- Cornelia Ulbert (2005): Human Security als Teil einer geschlechtersensiblen Außen- und Sicherheitspolitik? In: Sicherheit und Frieden, No. 1, Vol. 23, pp. 20-25
- Human Rights Watch